How to Build a Career in Information Technology

By: Shay Rosen

Information Technology is a field that encompasses a wide range of employment possibilities. From software development and hardware integration to webmasters and beyond, the possibilities are almost limitless. What isn't limitless, unfortunately, are the educational opportunities related to IT training. For an industry that undergoes drastic changes on an almost yearly basis, it's difficult for our current educational system to keep up. Relevancy is almost always compromised by lengthy computer science degree programs that teach fundamentals which the newest developments no longer adhere to.

This begs the question; how exactly does one go about establishing a career in the IT field. Between communications and computer science majors, self taught gurus and others already working in the field, there doesn't seem to be a particular academic path to follow which can guarantee success. There are, however, more than a few ways to hedge your bets and come out on top.

The first step is to choose an area of IT that interests you and for which there is a growing need. As an example, it may pay to be relatively familiar with UNIX if you're planning on making a career in coding, but there's rarely a need for someone with more than a working knowledge. Choose an area, be it network security, coding, administration, integration, OS management or any of the other possibilities, that hasn't outlived its shelf life.

Once you've settled on an area you wish to develop expertise in, get certified. Certification classes may not be the most impressive thing on your resume, but they'll impart a large amount of knowledge in the shortest possible timeframe. Better yet, they'll give you the entry level criteria you need to take the next step.

The next step, as it were, is to gain some experience. Whether through internships or short term contracts with less than desirable compensation, experience in combination with certifications can help you go from a job to a career. Not only will you learn more, the nature of working on projects forces you to become acclimated to putting your knowledge to use in real time.

Once you have a little experience under your belt and a few certifications behind you, you have two choices. You can either parlay what you have into a career in your chosen field or continue to work part time while you go for a degree at either the associate's or bachelor level. The advantage of the latter is that it may save you from toiling at entry level wages and has the possibility to open the door to opportunities with companies that will make your education worthwhile.

Careers and Job Hunting
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